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The Downside Of Dressing Down

Originally posted by ubabenefits.com.

The popular phrase “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” doesn’t mean you should show up at work looking like an astronaut, but it also doesn’t mean that you should dress super fancy if all your peers are wearing jeans. Casual Fridays may have become a little too casual in most offices and that’s even carrying over to the general workday policy all week. Even some CEOs at trendy startups are now wearing jeans and sandals to the office. So what’s the harm; right?

Well, plenty, according to an article on CNN.com titled, How ‘casual Fridays’ suppress creativity. It suggests that clothing influences how you perceive yourself, so if you dress more formally, then you’ll think of yourself as more competent and if you dress more casually, then you’ll think of yourself as more relaxed and laid-back. Research conducted at Columbia University and California State University, Northridge, found that people who dressed more formally thought more abstractly – that is, “big-picture thinking.” Furthermore, the research found that if someone was dressed more formally than the people around them, they felt might feel more in control or more like a leader.

In an article on Fortune.com titled, Should you still ‘dress for the job you want’?, a question was raised that someone who wears formal clothing in an office would stick out like a sore thumb. It even went so far as saying someone might be ridiculed by their coworkers who would remark, “Have you got a job interview lined up somewhere today?”

In response to that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with dressing up. Don’t let others bring you down; try to elevate them instead. As we all know, people judge us based on our appearance. If you’re the best dressed among your peers, it could definitely send the message higher up that you’re ready for a promotion. Remember that you don’t have to go overboard. For example, don’t wear a suit and tie or fancy dress if your peers are wearing jeans and flip-flops. It’s also important to remember that quality will always trump quantity. Whatever you wear, make it the best you can afford. Your clothes should fit well and not have wrinkles, shoes should be polished, and accessories look expensive (even if they’re not). If you wear a high-end designer outfit that looks shabby, or have an accessory like a briefcase or purse that’s seen better days, it won’t matter how much it costs if it looks grungy, which will make you appear the same.

One of the great comments of the article is that you shouldn’t worry about what your peers think of your appearance since they’re not the ones who will be promoting you up the ladder.